Alaa Alkoje is 38 years old, from Hama, Syria.
I am from Hama in Syria and I have five children. I came to Denmark in 2015. In Syria, I worked in construction and trade between China, Dubai and Syria. All my life I have been working, because when I was very young, Bashar al-Assad’s father; Hafez al-Assad killed all men in my hometown Hama. He got every man over the age of 16 killed. Approximately 200.000 men.
I started to work with maturing shoes. My father used to make shoes. I did that in the daytime. At night, I got a job in construction. I worked 13-15 hours a day, every day of the week.
That was my childhood. When I got older, I saved money in order to buy a small apartment and renovated it, using the skills I learned in the construction business. When I sold the apartment, I made a profit to buy a new apartment. That is how I worked my way up. I also did that with cars.
One day after the war started, I was stopped, at one of Assad’s checkpoints. I had to show my ID, because I was from Hama, they arrested me. They put me in prison for two month. In prison, they tortured me. I was electrocuted, whipped, blinded and I was burned with cigarettes. They broke all of my fingers. Still today, I have no feeling in one of my hands.
After I got out of prison I paid 1.5 million Syrian dollars – about 25000$ to be smuggled to Saudi Arabia. From Saudi Arabia, I went to Turkey and from there to Greece by boat. From Greece, I got a plane to Belgium, from Belgium to Sweden and from there to Denmark.
I choose Denmark because I thought I could find peace and happiness here. I was wrong. The government is very hostile towards refugees. The way Denmark treats refugees and their foreign policy gives Denmark a very bad reputation all around the world.
When I came to Denmark, I was destroyed. I felt like a dead man. I had so much pain in my body. I could not use my arms or my legs.
My first job here was an internship. I worked every day for 8 hours, for 3 months with Red Cross. I worked as a volunteer in Aunstrup refugee camp for The Red Cross. I got a key for everything, and I was a trusted employee.
After a while, I got permission to stay and I went to Lejre. I also go to a psychiatric center for traumatized refugees. I have PTSO. I also got a job in a restaurant in Lejre. I worked there for a year, before it closed. Then I got a job in Føtex near Roskilde station.
I wish the Danes to see us people for Syria as hard working people. I wish that they would not generalize us all as bad; just a few people that makes mistakes.
I wish the government could see how refugee families live with 3-4 children, and the parents have to get by on integration help and live at 5000 kr. Per month. It is very sad and hard for them. The municipality constantly threatens refugees who are traumatized and cannot work and go to school. They feel like second-rate citizen. Not me, I have a job but I am speaking for other refugees.